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Monday, August 3, 2020

The Art of #Hashtags

August 03, 2020
The Art of #Hashtags




No doubt, you've come to see hashtags as a necessary part of online (especially social media) content, but just in case, let's spell it out: A hashtag is the numerical pound sign “#” followed by a word or series of words, which groups together an idea based on the subject of a social media post.


For example, if you were to post a picture of the plethora of houseplants you have, the hashtags associated could be #plantparent or #plantlife. These hashtags are saved and tracked by social media platforms, so later a person can click on the hashtag and see all of the posts associated with the topic.


Lots of companies use hashtags, but perhaps not as effectively as they could if they understood exactly how hashtags work. Let’s talk about four different types of hashtags and how your brand could benefit.

 

Brand Hashtags

Your brand is important, right? So, your best approach to creating a useful hashtag is to associate it with your small business’ brand when you post on social media. Think of it as the signature for your company.Keep ite short and concise, but be interesting. If someone sees your hashtag on their social media channels, you want them to recognize that it is associated with your brand. Many businesses use their name or slogan if it’s simple and easy enough. But there’s no reason you can’t spice it up a bit.


One thing to recognize is hashtags don’t work when they are combined with symbols like the hyphen or apostrophe, so if these are part of your brand, think of a way to work around them in the hashtag. When it comes to brand hashtags, your users will see clear images presented by your business and show solidarity later on by using it in their own posts, which allows you to interact with your customers on a more personal level.

 

Campaign Hashtags

Does your business run promotional campaigns? Try using campaign hashtags to use alongside your brand hashtags to tie them all together. Think of something clever and easy for people to remember. This will help to keep it sticky Promote your campaign hashtag on your own social networking sites or encourage people to use it on their posts to increase brand awareness and assist in marketing your products or services.

 

Trending Hashtags

Trending hashtags are popular tags used by a lot of people within a short period of time. Many times, you see this on Twitter when something big is going one, whether it’s an event, a scandal or a big news story. For example, #COVID19 has been a regular trending hashtag for a while because of the world’s current situation. Your business can use its social media to look up what hashtags are currently trending, and then, get in on the action by posting to these trends.


An example post could be, “Have you been affected by #COVID19? We’re here for you! Give us a call or email, and we’ll go to bat for you.” Using a trending hashtag makes your post more likely to get views, likes, favorites and retweets, which increases its visibility and promotes your business.

 

Content Hashtags

Finally, the classic: content hashtags. While it may not seem as glamorous as some of the others, these are hashtags your business can use which simply pertain to the physical content in your social media posts. They’re actually very effective. For example, a clothing company may post about a new line of jewelry they just received in store: “We’re thrilled about the beautiful jewelry we now have in stock. Come check us out today! #jewelry #necklaces #bracelets #beautiful”.


You can even do research to see which content hashtags receive the most views, and then incorporate these in your posts to increase visibility. But be aware: Too many hashtags in a post can overwhelm some viewers. Add just a few to give your post a bit more pizazz and versatility.


When it comes to marketing your small business, let social media do some heavy lifting by taking advantage of hashtags to promote your products and services. Before you know it, your business will be growing and your hashtags with be #trending”.

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Professional Distancing: Marketing Practices To Avoid

July 30, 2020
Professional Distancing: Marketing Practices To Avoid

When it comes to being a savvy marketer, there’s a wide range of practices that would be wise to avoid in order to successfully promote your brand and elevate it above the noise of a crowded inbox or mailbox. Take a look at this list and see where you are in terms of your marketing know-how. 

 

Not Promoting Yourself

The idea that my small business “doesn’t need any marketing” is a signal that you have potential to make some incredible changes to your overall strategy. Take a look at why you don’t believe you need any marketing. What is holding you back from it? Once you identify these factors, you may come to realize that even a small amount of marketing can go a long way for your business. Promoting your business is a way to stand out from your competitors and make your business shine brighter than the others. Utilize your promotional marketing to come out on top. Overall, if you want to make money for your business, have a marketing and promotion strategy in place, even if it may be small.

You may believe that your products or service speaks for itself, and people will naturally come through word of mouth, and you may have some success with this mentality. 

But ultimately, your own promotion is what is going to drive customers your way. Essentially, your business should sell your business.

 

Undefined Target Audience

Do you have a target audience? Do you know who it is? A common problem in many businesses is they don’t. So, consider your ideal customer. Someone who fits your business values perfectly, who loves your products and who is willing to refer you to others or stick with your for the long term. What do they look like? How do they act? How would you define them? 

Is it Pam who spends her weekdays volunteering at animal shelters and her weekends playing rock ‘n roll in a local concert space? Or is it Garry who spends his free time painting nature scenery while holding a steady job at the Parks and Recreation Department?

If you’re having trouble identifying your target audience, do some research and get to know your customer segments—who are your current customers? That will help inform how to go after new ones.. An undefined target audience can make your marketing campaigns appear scattered and uncertain, and your messaging may not hit the mark and resonate with the people you want to receive it. 

 

Ignoring Social Media

It might seem like a waste of time, but social media marketing does work—you just have to be sure you’re on the right platform. Go where your audience is. That might mean creating a Facebook page for your business, or maybe a  Twitter or Instagram account. Even Snapchat and TikTok are being used successfully by marketers.  Not only will you meet more of your customers and prospects, broadening your reach, , but you gain free promotion and potentially increased search engine rankings. 

 

Aggressive Email Blasts

If you’re using email marketing, keep it up! It can be a very effective method to reach a certain audience. However, be careful about how many emails you’re sending—too many messages to the same people can lead to unsubscribes.Unregulated emails blasts can leave customers feeling less engaged. Practice segmentation of topics with your audience. You’ll be a pro at this in no time.

 

Making False Promises

If you can’t deliver on something you’ve claimed you could with a customer or client, you’re going to lose their trust, and they will go to a competitor. False promises negatively affect your company and brand. No one likes to feel like they have been lied to, especially when they are spending money. 

When developing your marketing plan, be clear and concise, while avoiding any confusion or false promise. If you advertise fast and efficient service but deliver a week late, ouch. You could lose a customer. 

Marketing is a key part of your small business plan, so make sure to carefully consider the do’s and don’ts in order to create a plan that works well and grows your business.

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Monday, July 20, 2020

Cultivating Company Culture from Home

July 20, 2020
Cultivating Company Culture from Home


With the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are looking for more when it comes to their workday, especially when many are working from home now. Not necessarily more money or more benefits (although those are important), but more fulfillment. It’s normal for an employee to want to know their work matters; to feel valued and like they’re making a difference.

How can your business offer that when your only interaction is through a Zoom meeting? By reinforcing a strong company culture that exceeds the walls of your office. Your culture sets you apart from other employers, either in a good way or maybe not-so-good way. How can you ensure a company culture that has employees (and clients) sticking by you? Here’s five ways.


1. Reestablish your values.
The culture is what defines your company. Within that culture lies your core values; however, unless you’re following through with them, they are worthless. The only thing worse than a company with no values is one where the values are meaningless. Share the things that mean the most to your business with your employees. Show them why these things matter and illustrate how they, as an individual, fit into the mix.


2. Listen to your current employees.
Given the current situation, it’s important to retain the employees you already have. Try sending out staff questionnaires or surveys about the current culture to see how team members are feeling, then (drum roll) listen to what they actually say.

If you prove to your employees that their opinions matter, they will be more likely to stay with the company, enjoy their work and recommend the business to others. Not only that, but the positivity from an employee who feels valued will contribute to a positive company culture overall.


3. Build a team mentality.
It can be so easy for employees to lose motivation, especially while many are in the confines of their own homes for what feels like forever. How can you counteract this? Develop a goal that your entire team can get excited about. Build up the idea of “we’re all in this together” (think High School Musical). You are all part of the same team, with each member doing his or her part towards the ultimate goal.

Every person wants to feel important to the organization. By building up a team mentality for your company, you create a culture of unity and community. From here, you will be able to see who’s a team player and who’s not, by those supporting the company and fellow coworkers.


4. Check on your team.
It can be easy to assume that, since your team is working from home, their workday is a breeze. While some of them may be thriving, there are others that may be struggling. Especially your extroverts. Have regular chats with your team and figure out how they are feeling and be prepared to help with any struggles.

By having regular communication with your team, they will feel that they’re appreciated and cared about. It’s also a great way to stay in touch with everyone while social distancing and working from home are the norm.


5. Have some fun.
You heard that right. Have some fun! While this may look different for every business, don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit every now and then. Now matter what you decide, there is always some way to encourage employees to engage in activities that feel less like work and more like a day off. Whether it’s a virtual happy hour or a Netflix party, a little relaxation can go a long way in building a consistent company culture.

When it comes to furthering your business, there are few things that are more important than the employees who work for it. Hold on to your talented employees and create an employee-friendly environment that is shared between the physical office and the home. Your company culture is your saving grace even during these unusual circumstances, but when your culture thrives, so will your business.
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Friday, May 29, 2020

The Benefits of Supporting Local Businesses

May 29, 2020
The Benefits of Supporting Local Businesses


We’ve all heard the need to support local businesses. Buy local, eat local, go local. But sometimes buying locally can be difficult—whether in price, availability or convenience. Still, choosing community businesses can be worthwhile and worth advocating.
When it comes to supporting local business, you’re not just helping your community—it supports you too. Check out these reasons why going local helps you out in the long run.

1. Strengthen your local economy.
According to Civic Economics, for every dollar you spend at an independent business, 3 times more money is returned into the local economy, compared to that spent at a larger chain (50 times more compared to an online retailer). This money is going right back into the community you live and work in, helping support valuable programs for yourself and your family.
Small businesses often give back to the community in other ways: donating, buying or financially backing other independent groups. When small businesses are strong, the community and local economy are strengthened as well.

2. Create more jobs.
Not only is your local economy strengthened when you shop locally, but you also help create more jobs. These jobs could go to your friends, family or neighbors—people who would probably experience much more competition at a large chain store. Or, these jobs could go to you, just from doing your part to support the community.

3. Reduce environmental impact.
Locally owned businesses often make more local purchases for their products, requiring less transportation and outsourcing. They typically consume less land, locate closer to residents and create less traffic and air pollution. All of this leads to less congestion, less habitat loss and less negative impact on the environment. While this may not impact you immediately, it can definitely impact your children and grandchildren in the future.

4. Lower your taxes.
Everyone loves lower taxes, and supporting your local businesses can help do just that. Small businesses use land efficiently and have central locations which puts less demand on roads, sewers and safety services. Even more, independent businesses often generate more tax revenue per sales dollar. This means a greater percentage of local businesses helps to keep your taxes lower, as compared to mega stores.

5. Improve your family’s health.
When it comes to buying produce and choosing places to eat, local food distributors and restaurants are often the healthier choice for yourself and your family. According to GrubMarket, buying local food has numerous health benefits—opening you up to the world of organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats, fresh eggs and dairy provided by grass-fed cows. This means you and your family can enjoy a tasty meal, while supporting the local community and choosing the healthiest option.
When it comes to choosing local businesses, helping the community means helping you, too. Whether it’s aiding the economy now or building a better world for future generations, small businesses are here for you. But first, they need a little support from you.
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Monday, May 11, 2020

Once upon a Time: Storytelling for Marketing

May 11, 2020
Once upon a Time: Storytelling for Marketing







Storytelling is a powerful tool, and when it comes to small business marketing, it can be even more impactful than you might give it credit for. Your brand has a purpose, and telling that story is a valuable content marketing tactic. How can you use storytelling to grow? Today, we’re going to learn how.

Storytelling shares your truth.
The stories you tell should be as authentic as possible. While storytelling is a powerful content marketing tool, getting trapped in a lie can severely hurt a business. Marketing Week advises that a brand’s story is not something businesses should refer to just when they launch a marketing campaign or issue a press release.
Rather, it should be the foundation on which a future growth strategy is built. How did the business originate? What is its mission? What are its values? How has it stayed true to those values and mission? These are all incredibly authentic, truthful stories that need to be shared with those interested in your business.

Storytelling builds your personality.
According to Fast Company, 92% of consumers want brands to share advertisements that tell stories. Brand storytelling shows a business’s personality, mission and values. It says who you really are and what is most important in the company. In today’s online world, a brand’s personality is almost as important as the actual product or service they provide. Storytelling is a useful outlet to let this personality shine through and engage consumers on a personal level.

Storytelling establishes relationships.
Storytelling brings in your audience and establishes an emotional relationship with those seeking a product or service. It shows a business as a relational, transformative, trustworthy entity—not just a money-hungry corporation. When consumers see a brand’s story, they feel drawn to it in the same way they’re drawn to other storylines, like movies, T.V. shows or music. And when consumers are drawn in and feel connected, that relationship continues to grow stronger as they learn more and more about a business.

Storytelling sets you apart.
Your business brand is unique, and telling your story is a great way to set that brand apart from the competition. Tell what makes you important, valuable and better than others in your field. Why are you the leading expert in an issue? Why should consumers purchase your product over another? When you tell the story or your brand, you set the business apart by showing its distinct origin, foundation and direction.

Storytelling drives action.
Finally, storytelling drives action for a business brand. When consumers see a brand’s personality, feel a relationship with it and see how it sets apart from the crowd, they will feel more inclined to do something—sign up for a mailing list, use a service or buy a product. This is the power in storytelling. Its unique content marketing strategy engages consumers on their level, then encourages them to seek more information and get involved.
In the end, the small businesses that learn how to use storytelling in their marketing strategy grow even better at reaching clients, building their consumer base and helping others.
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Friday, May 8, 2020

Three Tips to Keep Your Marketing on Track During COVID-19

May 08, 2020
Three Tips to Keep Your Marketing on Track During COVID-19






The last few months have changed life as we know it: the COVID-19 outbreak has had significant impacts on our personal lives as well as how we conduct business. Some organizations have had to drastically change not just their 2020 strategies but their day-to-day operations.
While every business encounters its own unique situations, navigating this crisis and carrying your business through it will take continued marketing. Focus your marketing in these five areas as we push through the pandemic.

1. Tailor your messaging.
The easiest way to drive a wedge between your business and your customers is to be tone deaf about the world at large. Sure, certain crises aren’t of the magnitude that they will ever pertain to your business. However, the coronavirus has impacted everyone around the world, and carrying on with business as usual or not acknowledging our new reality strips the humanity out of your persona.
Take time to modify your messaging on all of your platforms, but start with an alert on your website. Use your best real estate—an alert banner at the top of your site or the main image on your homepage—to note how your business is helping customers in the wake of COVID-19. Then revise your social media content to make sure it’s providing answers for customers wishing to do business with you. Speaking of which...

2. Enhance your social media presence. 
With so many people working remotely, screentime is rising. If you hadn’t invested in a content calendar for your social media, now is the time to develop one with careful attention to important messages for your customers. What you communicate on social media is perceived as the most real time information, so if you have information or rules for customers visiting your business, make sure it’s on social media.
For example, many businesses in the food sector during this dilemma have been diligent about posting takeout specials but, more importantly, how customers can help keep their employees safe. Upholding and ensuring essential public health practices is good for your brand and engenders trust and affinity for your business down the road.

3. Keep your business profiles up to date.
In times like these, it’s imperative to keep information about your business current. If your business hours or ways your staff can be reached have changed, make sure all of your profiles make it easy for customers to understand new ways of interacting with your business.
While what you communicate on social media is perceived as the most real-time information, it’s vital to update your Google My Business (GMB) profile too. On top of revised information or rules for customers visiting your business, your GMB profile can also help boost sales with its ecommerce functionality.
Following these tips are a great start to make the most of a difficult situation. Conducting business and marketing appropriately—not making light of the pandemic—is a tall task, but smart, focused tactics can help see your organization through.
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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Making the Most of your May Marketing

May 06, 2020
Making the Most of your May Marketing
Making the Most of your May Marketing 
May commemorates the start of springtime and soon-to-be summer. A revitalizing, warm month full of fresh flowers and cool, sunny weather.
For small businesses and marketers, May is chock full of opportunities to share products and services with clients and encourage new sales. If you’re looking to make the most of your small business marketing efforts during the month of May, check out some of these ideas to get started and grow.

Mother’s Day
This year, Mother’s Day falls on May 10, and it’s a great opportunity for businesses to reach out to families and market their products or services as a contributor to a special Mother’s Day experience.
Flowers, food and gifts are all commonly associated with Mother’s Day. If you’re a small business owner, tap into the holiday by showing how your business is family-friendly and eager to help out in any way to celebrate.

Memorial Day
Memorial Day is May 25, and though it may be towards the end of the month, now is a great time to get started on promoting sales and giveaways.
The three-day weekend gives you a prime opportunity to market items to people who want to enjoy the weekend, however that looks for them this year. Start advertising your Memorial Day sales and promotions early to see how many customers and clients you can attract.

End of School
This year looks a little different, of course, but May still marks the end of another school year for students of all ages. Celebrate by marketing end-of-the-school-year promotions! No matter what a business’s products or services are, there’s a way to reach out to students—elementary through college—and especially their parents.
How can you get them prepared for summer? What do you have to offer to celebrate the end of the year? Search your company for these answers and then market them to consumers.
From start to finish, May is a month full of awesome marketing opportunities for organizations. By taking advantage of some of these tips and tricks, your small business can continue to reach out to consumers and grow in the month of May.
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